Are items in iCloud Drive backed up when using Time Machine as a backup?

Are items in iCloud Drive backed up when using Time Machine as a backup?

They are as long as you don’t have optimize storage selected. The data needs to be on your Mac as well as in the cloud.

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Thank you very much, Glen. And, I don’t have optimize storage selected.

But where are they backed up? In other words, where is the “original” file that gets backed up by Time Machine?

I’m guessing it’s in “~/Library/Mobile Documents”, but I’d like a confirmation. If I’m correct, is there an easier way to get there than opening a Finder window and then holding the option key and choosing Library from the Go menu?

What happens if optimize storage is selected?


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That’s the place. If the drive is the boot drive and it’s your home folder, iCloud Drive should be in your sidebar. If you are spelunking Time Machine, I think just selecting iCloud Drive in the Folder sidebar and entering Time Machine should have you in the right place.


That’s where they are, but that’s not the way to get there.

Put iCloud Drive in your Finder sidebar: Finder Preferences > Sidebar.
Now you can get to iCloud Drive from the sidebar. For restore from backup, open Time Machine with iCloud Drive as the front window in Finder.

Incidentally, even if you Optimize Storage, only files that have not been opened recently would be off-loaded, so they would still be in Time Machine.

Many thanks. Fortunately, I’ve never needed to recover an iCloud Drive file from Time Machine, and it’s nice to know how to do it when the time comes.

I think it also depends on space available on your drive and size of files being optimised. The words Apple uses to describe ‘Optimised’ say something like originals will be stored if space available. So from a TM backup point of view best to assume nothing, through you might be lucky.

I don’t know what algorithm Apple uses for Optimize Storage, but if it is even remotely rational, they would not be off-loading files that have been modified or created — or even just opened — within the last hour.

Of course, another issue: in iCloud Drive, you might have files that were created and used on another device. I don’t suppose you can count on a file being in Time Machine if it has never been accessed on a Time Machine-connected computer. It might be, but not guaranteed.